Whether you're looking for diversions to fill a rainy weekend afternoon with two little ones or planning togetherness that doesn't revolve around spending money on external activities, you can put together a roster of fun that engages your children's senses, teaches them practical skills and even helps them expand their food favorites. Instead of serving as the planner and directing every aspect of the day, open up the possibilities so your time together focuses on their creativity.
Even little children can take part in the process of preparing food. The act of stirring batter, kneading dough, adding spices to a mixing bowl or bringing you ingredients from the refrigerator helps them develop interest in the dish that results from their efforts. In a refrigerator with flexible drawer dividers, delegate a space for your children to use during the cooking process. They may be too young to open the oven door, let alone activate convection baking on your range's control panel, but you can help them develop life skills by explaining how convection's fan-forced hot air helps bake the bread you made together.
If your range includes an induction cooktop, the fact that its magnetic energy heats the food rather than the cooking surface or the ferrous-metal utensils you use helps increase the safety factor of family cooking.
Pictures & Movies
You're accustomed to using your digital camera and camcorder to take pictures and video footage of your children but you can share the fun with them and give them a chance to watch the viewfinder. A sports camcorder that's rated to survive immersion, impacts and dust makes a thoughtful choice to hand to a small child, given the extent to which its design helps make it nearly kidproof.
Get down at their level and show them how to use the device. If their efforts result in shots that look more like abstract art than recognizable views of siblings and scenery, put the learning experience above the documentary value of the footage. Be sure to screen their efforts on your TV and home theater, either by plugging devices directly into the playback equipment or wirelessly through your home network.
Drawing & Painting
If you enjoy art sessions with your children but don't want to face the mess of finger paints on the dining room table, let them experiment with virtual drawing and painting on a tablet device. They can doodle, erase, color and change their work to their hearts' content, leaving you with digital artwork you can save, back up on your home computer and display on the touchscreen panel of your refrigerator—a fun 21st-century take on hanging drawings on the fridge door. To post the art in physical form, print the drawings on your color printer and put them up on your family bulletin board.
Whether your children already enjoy reading or you're encouraging the beginnings of a lifelong love of the written word, sharing a story helps make literacy a family affair. To give your children an added stake in the reading material, write a story together on your tablet or home computer, letting your children take turns coming up with plot developments and dialog. Depending on their ages, you may need to serve as the official scribe, but just because they're not the ones typing the tale doesn't mean you can't engage them in the onscreen text. If your story emerges out of some of your children's drawings, you can add the artwork to it in digital form.
Photo Credits: Shauna Hundeby/Demand Media
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